Waiting to perform, a feeling of anxious excitement took over my body.

A roar from the crowd echoed through Liberty Hall as my name was called, my family and friends being the loudest and most boisterous supporters, yelling and cheering from their seats.

I took a deep breath, hummed lyrics to myself one last time, and walked out onto the stage, meeting blinding lights as I emerged from behind the curtain.

The audience fell silent with anticipation. Time moved in slow motion.

I approached the mic, wearing my favorite lime green jumpsuit and hot pink heels, and belted my heart out singing a verse and chorus from the song “Limbo” by Lawrence, an up-and-coming pop funk band.

The audience went wild.

This is what it was like to compete in East Texas Idol Friday night at Liberty Hall.

I and 14 other hopefuls brought our singing A-games to compete for a chance to win a silver ticket to audition in a judge’s city for “American Idol,” including free flight and hotel accommodations.

The competition was set up in four rounds of elimination. The first round composed of the top 15 contestants, the second the top 10, third the top 5 and three performed in the final round. During the second round, the audience, viewing in person or livestreaming at home, voted for their favorite performer through an online poll, granting a sixth contestant the opportunity to compete in the third round.

Each round three judges listened to performances, deliberated and decided who advanced to the next round.

Contestants from differing backgrounds sang a variety of genres ranging from Texas country to soul and everything in between.

Nerves were on edge and competition fierce as contestants were eliminated five by five with the passing of each round.

Though we all battled hard to win the ticket, Ebonique Mapps won over the hearts of the judges and the audience with her soulful sound and took home the title of 2019 East Texas Idol.

After the announcement of Mapps’ win, producers of KLTV surprised all top 15 contestants with “front of the line” passes for the “American Idol” in-person auditions in Waco this Tuesday.

I can’t say if I will or won’t attend the Waco auditions, but I am grateful to have been chosen to compete in this year’s “East Texas Idol.” Bucket list, check!

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